Kottayam (Ker): The counting of votes polled in the bypoll held in Puthuppally constituency here, which saw an intense battle between the ruling LDF and opposition UDF, began on Friday morning.
The election is being seen as politically significant as the Congress aims to retain its traditional stronghold while the ruling CPI (M) wants to make new inroads by clinching it, as the bypoll comes a few months ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.
The voting for the seat left vacant by the demise of Congress stalwart Oommen Chandy was held on September 5.
The counting which was supposed to begin at 8 am at the special counting station set up at a local college here was delayed for a few minutes.
Postal and service ballots were taken for counting in the first round.
An initial trend is expected to be known within some hours, Election Commission sources said.
UDF’s Chandy Oommen, LDF candidate Jaick C Thomas and BJP’s G Lijin Lal were trying their political luck in Puthuppally.
The total number of booths in Puthuppally was 182, and the counting of votes in the electronic voting machines would be conducted in 13 rounds, EC sources said.
As many as 74 counting officials were on duty on the counting day, while 32 CAPF personnel and a 12-member armed battalion were deployed for security at the counting station.
The constituency, located near this town, witnessed a war of words for the past few weeks as the September 5 by-election was a prestigious battle for both the ruling and opposition fronts in the state.
On Tuesday, 72.86 per cent of the total registered 1,76,412 voters had cast their vote, according to the Chief Electoral Officer.
The number of voters who turned up to exercise their franchise during the by-election for the Puthuppally Assembly seat was slightly lower than the around 74 per cent turnout seen in the 2021 state assembly polls.
The assembly seat fell vacant after the death of Chandy, who represented the constituency in Kottayam district for more than five decades without any break until his demise on July 18.
In the present composition of the 2021 Kerala Assembly with a total of 140 seats, the ruling LDF has 99, the UDF has 40 with one seat vacant- Puthuppally.